We live in a strange, confusing and unpredictable world. Need proof? Look no farther than the Jussie Smollett saga.
First, we heard that the actor, who’s both black and gay, was attacked by two folks with some apparent racist, homophobic leanings. (Oddly, both attackers were black, too.) Then we were told that Smollett actually knew his attackers—and, in fact, hired them to assault him, in part to procure a bigger paycheck. The city of Chicago filed a litany of charges against the actor, and it looked as if the guy’s career was all but done.
Now we’ve learned that the city of Chicago is dropping all 16 charges against Smollett. Why? Who knows? But for the case that keeps giving—to Culture Clips, at least—maybe that impending twist will give us something new to talk about next week.
Naturally, reaction to the Smollett has been, shall we say, mixed. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that prosecutors’ decision was “a whitewash of justice.” But Taraji P. Henson, who costarred with Smollett on the Fox show Empire, was thrilled. “I’m happy that the truth has finally been set free, because I knew it all along,” Henson told USA Today. “We’re all happy for him, and thank God the truth prevailed.” (But on the Empire set, perhaps things are not quite as joyfully unified as Henson says.)
While Smollett was getting out of hot water, Justin Bieber is getting out of music—at least for a while. In a pretty transparent Instagram post, Bieber says he’s stepping away to address some “deep rooted issues … so that I don’t fall apart, so that I can sustain my marriage and be the father I want to be.” Bieber, who admitted recently that he’s battling depression, may have hinted that being a star since before he could shave has taken its toll. “I’ve toured my whole teenage life, and early 20s,” he wrote.
(He’s not the only guy to struggle in the wake of fame. Kit Harington, who plays Jon Snow on HBO’s mega-popular Game of Thrones, admit he’s suffered from anxiety because of his prominence on the show—and in the wake of his character’s death and resurrection, he actually started therapy.)
Yeah, being a celebrity as a kid can definitely be trying—especially if the kid’s celeb-hungry mom is inclined to use pepper spray if the child isn’t performing up to snuff. That’s what the seven small stars of the YouTube channel “Fantastic Adventures” dealt with. The channel, which featured adorable adopted kids swinging lightsabers and such, boasted more than 700,000 followers and rang up a collective total of a quarter billion views before the kids’ “momager,” Machelle Hobson, was accused of child abuse and turned in by her adult daughter—who, ironically, played the kids’ mom in the videos. When police questioned the children, one refused to eat potato chips, worried that Hobson would “smell them” on his breath.
Meanwhile, some pundits are marking :the one-year anniversary of the short-lived relationship between singer Arianna Grande and comedian Pete Davidson. Writing for The Federalist, Emily Jashinsky (a millennial herself, it should be noted) declared that the relationship “represented two stereotypical sides of the millennial coin, almost literally marrying the nihilistic with the superficial.” She went on to write that,
[quote]He’s the kind of dude you would expect to mock Grande, and she’s the kind of girl you would expect to mock Davidson. But they both project a unifying indifference: stoner apathy and hot girl apathy. The latter is muddled, combining the eager pursuit of physical beauty with a strange nonchalance.
It would hardly be a Culture Clips column if we didn’t remind you that teens and screens aren’t always the healthiest of chums, and a new study from Pew Research finds that moms and dads are plenty worried, too. About two-thirds of parents worry that their teens are spending too much time in front of screens, and 62% say that they’re losing the ability to communicate in person. That’s a sentiment that Sharon Osbourne shares, by the way. Oh, and we might as well remind you about a study we mentioned last week that said social media was paradoxically socially isolating, and that teens are feeling increasingly lonely.
But for those teens who have been on their phones quite a bit in the last week, they might’ve been at least exposed to a Bible verse. Thanks to Jordan Peele’s horror movie Us, Jeremiah 11:11 was one of the most popular Google searches of the week. Not that it’s a verse you’d likely stick on your refrigerator.
Finally, let’s talk about what’s really on all of our minds. OK, on my mind, anyway: Avengers: Endgame. No, no, I’m not talking about the fake footage trailer that recently landed online, or the argument that the movie’s reportedly three-hour runtime is a great excuse to bring back that long-lost intermission. USA Today recently unveiled a list of favorites on who it thinks will make it to the credits alive—even if they have to be resurrected from the carnage of Infinity War to do so—and who won’t.
Hawkeye, my friend, it doesn’t look good for you. And I was hoping you’d get your own movie, too.